Redi Hasa: Music Will Enter Your Soul Without Knocking
07.06.2021, di Giacomo Luperini
From Nirvana to Bach, by way of Ludovico Einaudi and the Beatles: fresh from releasing a new deluxe edition of his debut album The Stolen Cello, Redi Hasa spoke to us about his inspirations.
Redi Hasa has just released a deluxe version of his debut solo album The Stolen Cello, and is about to embark on a live tour which will include a participation to spiritual music festival La Musica Dei Cieli as well as to the Climate Space Film & Music Festival in Melpignano. The Albanian cellist, who recently composed the score for Oscar winners Nomadland and The Father in collaboration with Ludovico Einaudi, spoke to us about his inspirations, his upcoming projects and how he spent this forced pause from live performing.
Hi Redi, how’s it going?
I’m well. I have spent the most recent stretch of the pandemic mostly in Lecce, with the Associazione Culturale Fondo Verri. They organize a lot of cultural events, such as book and record parties. They are spreaders of culture in every sense of the word. Their office has become my den, and I have never stopped working.
After years of fruitful collaboration with many different artists you released your solo album The Stolen Cello in 2020, and now you’re re-releasing it as a deluxe version. Why did you choose to begin a solo career at this moment in time?
The time had come, it happened organically… I could feel it. I worked with many artists, I took part in many ensembles and musical currents, and I always loved it. I like to work on the sidelines, to work on arrangements, to try and understand a project’s musical direction. I find it stimulating to work with others towards a common creative goal. This has allowed me to improvise and forge new musical partnerships. But the time was ripe to tell a story of my very own. I didn’t force it, it just happened. I have very strong ties to my native country, Albania, and I wanted to bring my childhood back to life, a time when my life was footloose and fancy-free. You have no rush to live when you’re a child, and every small thing has an immense value. I remember the hours spent playing, or staring at the cherry trees in bloom. I have tried to preserve some part of these experiences in my adult life, but adults don’t have time to stop and enjoy all the good that life can offer. I wanted to stop, and to recreate a snapshot of moments from my childhood.
I find your music to be very atmospheric, sometimes it even sounds like you’re trying to evoke a specific image, or a landscape. Is there any landscape you’re particularly close to, a recurring image in your work?
There is no specific place. There is everything that has ever touched my soul, and that I strive to express with my music, such as the sense of wellbeing and love that Nature conveys to me. I do, however, have very fond memories of the Dajti mount in Tirana.
Your new deluxe edition of The Stolen Cello includes a cover of the Beatles’ “With a little help from my friends”. You have often stated in interviews that both the Beatles and Bach have been formative influences on your development as a musician. Which other artists have inspired your artistic sense?
Good music of any kind. Obviously I have a particularly strong relationship with Bach because I basically grew up with his music. I began to study the cello when I was six, by age eight I was studying Bach and he has been a reference point for me ever since. I have strong feelings for any music that enters my soul, no matter the genre. As I always like to say, music will enter your soul without knocking.
You often took part in projects connected to environmental topics, from your long-term collaboration with Ludovico Einaudi, to your upcoming participation in the Climate Space Film & Music Festival in Melpignano. Would you say you are environmentally conscious?
I feel strongly about any theme connected with the climate crisis. In “The Stolen Cello” I often reference nature. The opening piece is about Dajti, a place that up until fifteen years ago was a tree-filled mountain and now is covered in tarmac and skyscrapers. We are a self-destructive society. We are simply unable to value and thank nature for all it gives us every single day. We have a huge debt towards nature, and we should try to protect it, to protect ourselves. Destroying nature is like throwing a boomerang that will come back to strike us.
You have taken part in the spiritual music festival “La musica dei cieli” in the past, and you will again soon. Would you call yourself a spiritual person?
I am a spiritual person. I strive to live every day to the fullest, searching deep within myself. I think sometimes spirituality and music are the same thing: music really helps me meditate on myself.
You have been working with Ludovico Einaudi for a long time. This year was particularly successful as you wrote scores for two Oscar-winning movies, “Nomadland” and “The Father” . Can you tell us a bit about your partnership?
We have been working together for twelve years. I call Ludovico my family, I spend more time with him than with my parents or my girlfriend (laughs). The experience of working with him has been life-changing in many ways, especially in helping me see the core of music and, while finding it, find myself as well. My work with Ludo is a learning experience that began twelve years ago, and that I am sure will continue in the future. We are carrying on in the same direction. Obviously I am very, very happy, both for myself and for him, to see our music receive so many accolades. It means our work was heartfelt, and made with love. We have curated every part of the music and every part of our soul, and I am super happy about that.
Before we say goodbye, could you tell us something about your upcoming projects?
I am working on three new records. One is inspired by Nirvana, a band I learned to love when I was a young boy in Albania, when I first heard their Seattle brand of grunge. I am completely reinterpreting their music, to adapt it to the sound of my cello, creating a sort of “symphonic/psychedelic” effect. I would like to bring the depth of my soul to the music of Nirvana. The album is ready, it has been a great challenge and I cannot wait to release it. I am also working on a sequel to The Stolen Cello, which will be recorded in September at Peter Gabriel’s “Real World Studios”. Finally, I am working on yet another record with a local accordionist named Rocco Nigro. He is a great friend, a great musician, and we have been working together for many years. The time is ripe to release an album of the pieces we have played together.